John Adams | 2nd President, 1797-1801

Birthplace, Quincy, Massachusetts
Born into a prosperous, but not wealthy, Massachusetts farming family on October 19, 1735, John Adams grew up in the tidy little world of New England village life. His father, a deacon in the Congregational church, earned a living as a farmer and shoemaker. As a healthy young boy, John loved the outdoors. He played pranks, frequently skipped school to hunt and fish, and often daydreamed. Thanks to his father's insistence, John attended private academies and had a private tutor. He eventually excelled at his studies and finished his formal education by graduating from Harvard College in 1755. He then studied law with a prominent local lawyer and taught school in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts.

The John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces are the oldest Presidential birthplaces in the United States. In 1735, John Adams was born in the saltbox house located only 75 feet away from the birthplace of his son, John Quincy Adams. In the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, young John and his bride Abigail started their family and the future President launched his career in politics and law. John Adams maintained his law office in the house and it was here that he, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin wrote the Massachusetts Constitution. This document, still in use today, greatly influenced development of the United States Constitution.

 

Home, The Old House, Quincy, Massachusetts The Old House, built in 1731, became the residence of the Adams family for four generations from 1788 to 1927. It was the home to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams; First Ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams; Civil War Minister to Great Britain Charles Francis Adams; and literary historians Henry Adams and Brooks Adams. The Adams family's legacy of service to their Nation is reflected as much by the 78,000 artifacts inside the Old House as by its historic landscape. The Old House grounds include a historic orchard, an 18th-century style formal garden that contains thousands of annual and perennial flowers, and an 1873 Carriage House.

Stone Library, The Old House, Quincy, Massachusetts
The Adamses lived by the written word, and later additions accommodated their library and collection of personal papers, as well as housing their ever-growing family. At one point there were seventeen members of what John Adams called "my complicated family" staying more or less permanently with them. An elegant formal garden and apple orchards surround the house. The backyard is also the site of the stone library Charles Francis Adams constructed to house his father's and grandfather's books and papers. Here he wrote the Memoirs of his father, and his son, Henry Adams, wrote the classic 9-volume History of the United States.

 

Gravesite, First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts
Within months of John Adams's retirement, he threw himself into his writing and commentary. For the rest of his life, Adams wrote prolifically, including his autobiography. Nothing seemed too trivial or too weighty for him to address, from the nature of his manure piles at the farm to the nature of conservatism as a political philosophy. Perhaps the most fascinating letters were those exchanged with Thomas Jefferson in the last decade of their lives.

John Adams was fighting to stay awake on July 4, 1826, the 50th birthday of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was an anniversary that Adams was determined to live long enough to see. His old adversary and now friend, Thomas Jefferson, equally feeble and equally determined, used massive doses of painkillers to hang on. Adams died midday at 12:50 in the afternoon. Near noon, close to the time of Jefferson's death, Adams awakened from a deep sleep and with great effort proclaimed: "Thomas Jefferson survives." These were his last words, after which he fell into a comma. At about six o'clock in the evening, as the warm day turned cool, John Adams died. He was ninety-one years old.

The United First Parish Church, constructed in 1828, was designed by Alexander Parris and partially financed through the generous land donation from John Adams. The crypt beneath the sanctuary is the final resting place of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and First Ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.

 

Original Gravesite, Hancock Cemetery, Quincy, Massachusetts
John Adams was originally buried at Hancock Cemetery in his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts. His son, John Quincy Adams, was also temporarily buried in this cemetery. Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and their wives, were later interred in a crypt beneath the First Parish Church in the same town of Quincy, Massachusetts. Other relatives of John Adams interred at Hancock Cemetery include his father, Deacon John Adams, his mother, Susanna Boylston Adams, and his grandfather Joseph Adams.